Motion to postpone the consideration of the Bill to the first day of meeting after the Christmas recess


Monday, December 18, 1775.

The Order of the Day being read, for the House to be put into a Committee upon the Bill,

The Duke of Manchester said, that whatever view Administration could have in deceiving the publick, might be matter of speculation, and was what he would not pretend precisely to determine; but by the account in Saturday' s Gazette, published by authority, it appeared they were determined to bring the London Gazette on a level with the Brussels Gazette, published during the late war. By the account alluded to, he remarked, that our affairs in Canada were represented to be in a very flourishing condition; whereas the contrary was well known to be true, for there were authentick accounts of a later date from that country, which said, that St˙ John' s was in the hands of the Provincials, and that probably the next accounts would bring advices of the total destruction of General Carleton' s army, and that we were not in possession of a foot of land in Canada.

His Grace, as well on account of this news, as the general importance of the bill, moved, "That the House be put into a Committee upon the bill on the first day of meeting after the Christmas recess."

The Marquis of Rockingham seconded the motion. He said, that the merchants were alarmed, and that in such a case he thought it would be very proper to defer the further consideration of the bill till after Christmas, as in such a state of uncertainty, but more particularly on account of the alarm the bill had created among the commercial part of the nation, the consequences were in many respects much to be dreaded.

The Earl of Suffolk said that the King' s Ministers were fully justified in causing the account relative to Canada to be inserted in the Gazette; that it was the last authentick account received from that Province. That the Ministry had received the account alluded to by the noble Duke, but they had no right to pay any attention to it, as it did not come through a channel on which they could depend; that it might be, for aught he could say to the contrary, very true; but whether it was or not, it could not affect the present bill; because if Canada was in the hands of the Provincials, it would become Great Britain to act with greater firmness and vigour.

Viscount Townshend said, that the present reason for deferring the commitment of the bill, had no possible weight with him. If an account of our prevailing in this skirmish, or being defeated in that, was to sway and influence the British councils, it was a state he never expected to see them reduced to; that if the principle which Parliament meant or avowed to pursue was a good one and practicable, nothing ought to divert them from it; for he hoped they had the power to enforce what they certainly had a right to claim.

The Earl of Shelburne observed, that no man had a


higher opinion of the military abilities of General Carleton than he had; but he could not say but that that gentleman, if the accounts from Canada were to be depended on, had acted in a very unjustifiable and reprehensible manner in his civil capacity.

Viscount Townshend passed the highest encomiums on General Carleton. He said there was not a braver nor more capable officer in the service. That what he had said relative to his not having a sufficient force to oppose the Rebels, was not so much in point of numbers as discipline. He had, it is true, a good number of troops under his command, but they were mostly composed of Militia, not used to service, the whole regular force together not exceeding two regiments, amounting to seven hundred men.

The Earl of Shelburne repeated his entire approbation of General Carleton as an officer, but, he said, he had done many things for which he believed he or his principal would be made answerable. That he should not now trouble their Lordships on that head, but he hoped that the day was not very far distant, when the matter would be fully cleared up. As to the want of force, or want of discipline, the General could not help that; it behooved those only who neglected that service to answer for his want of success.

The question was then put on the Duke of Manchester' s motion,

It was resolved in the negative, without a division.

The Lord Chancellor moved the Order of the Day; but before the Chairman [Lord Scarsdale] had taken the chair, the Duke of Manchester acquainted the House, that he had a Petition from the Merchants of Bristol against the bill. His Grace observed that he did not know whether it was consonant to the orders of the House. He, in the meantime, read the heads of the Petition in his place, which describes the various consequences of the bill, as respecting the merchants of that town, concerned in the American trade.

The Earl of Sandwich rose to the matter of order: He said no motion could be received while the Order of the Day was before the House; that besides, he believed there was no occasion for particularly attending to the contents of the Petition, as he meant to offer a clause which he believed would, in a great measure, remedy the grievance stated in the Petition.

Then the House was adjourned during pleasure, and put in Committee on the Bill.

The Earl of Dartmouth offered an amendment to the preamble and the concluding clause, to ascertain and show that the power of pardoning, vested in his Majesty, was inherent in him, and only given here to answer a particular purpose.

The Earl of Sandwich offered the following Amendments, which were agreed to by the Committee:

L˙ 5. Leave out from ["Colonies"] to the end of the clause, and instead thereof insert, ["nor to any ship or vessel, or the cargo thereof, which shall be cleared out from any port in Great Britain or Ireland after the twentieth day of January, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six, and shall be bound to any of the said British Sugar Colonies, or which shall be cleared out after the twenty-fifth day of March, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six, from the said British Sugar Colonies, and shall be bound to Great Britain or Ireland, in case it shall appear by the oath or affirmation of one or more of the owners of such ship or vessel, to be endorsed on the register thereof, to be taken before the Collector, or other principal officer of the Customs, at the port or place where such ship or vessel shall be cleared out, (which oath or affirmation such Collector or other principal officer of the Customs is hereby authorized and required to administer,) that two-thirds, at least, of such ship or vessel, are the property of his Majesty' s subjects residing in Great Britain or Ireland, or in some of the said British Sugar Colonies or Plantations."]

L˙ 9. Before ["Provided,"] insert —

"And whereas many and large debts are now due from the inhabitants of the North-American Colonies hereinbefore mentioned, to divers of his Majesty' s good and loyal subjects residing in Great Britain, Ireland, and the British Plantations in the West-Indies, and many of such good and loyal subjects may have estates and effects in some of the said North-American Colonies: And whereas, goods and merchandise have been or may be shipped or laden in the


said Colonies, for and on account of such debts, estates, or effects, and other goods and merchandise may be laden there, and sent from thence in consequence of orders given for that purpose:

"Be it therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, That nothing in this act contained shall extend, or be construed to extend, to any ship or vessel which shall have cleared out and sailed from any of the said Colonies for Great Britain, Ireland, or any of the British Plantations in the West-Indies, on or before the first day of January, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six, nor shall extend, or be construed to extend, to forfeit any goods or merchandise, or effects, which shall be laden or shipped on board any ship or vessel in any of the said North-American Colonies, on or before the twenty-fifth clay of March, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six, as a remittance to any of his Majesty' s subjects residing in Great Britain, Ireland, or the British Colonies or Plantations in the West-Indies, for or on account of any such estates, effects, or debts, or ire consequence of any orders given for that purpose, before the twenty-fifth day of December, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, provided proof thereof shall be made on oath of the parties, to whom such goods; merchandise, or effects, shall be consigned, or otherwise, to the satisfaction of the Judge or Court before whom any seizure of such goods, merchandise, or effects, shall be depending; anything herein contained to the contrary notwithstanding."

Other amendments having been adopted, the House was resumed;

And the Lord Scarsdale reported from the Committee, That they had gone through the Bill, and made several Amendments thereto, which he was ready to report when the House will be pleased to receive the same.

Ordered, That the said Report be received to-morrow.